Volume 35 - Article 2 | Pages 31–46

Introduction to research on immigrant and ethnic minority families in Europe

By Hill Kulu, Tina Hannemann

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Date received:07 Mar 2016
Date published:06 Jul 2016
Word count:4607
Keywords:cohabitation, divorce, ethnic minorities, Europe, immigrants, marriage, second generation, separation
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2016.35.2
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection “Partnership Dynamics among Immigrants and Their Descendants in Europe” at http://www.demographic-research.org/special/18/
 

Abstract

Background: This article provides an introduction to the special collection of papers on partnership dynamics among immigrants and their descendants in five selected European countries: Sweden, France, the UK, Spain, and Estonia.

Results: The analysis shows a significant variation in partnership patterns among immigrants in all five countries. Immigrants from countries with more ‘conservative’ family patterns (e.g., those from Turkey, South Asia, and the Maghreb region) have high marriage rates, low (premarital) cohabitation levels, and are less likely to separate. By contrast, more ‘fluid’ family formation patterns dominate among some non-European immigrant groups (e.g., Caribbeans, Sub-Saharan Africans, and Latin Americans).

Conclusions: The significant diversity of partnership patterns within countries across immigrant groups supports the idea that socialisation factors play an important role in their partnership behaviour. The partnership patterns of immigrants’ descendants are ‘in-between’. These findings support the idea that both the minority subculture and the mainstream society have an effect on the behaviour of ethnic groups; however, the role of minority subculture seems to be larger than expected among some groups (e.g., individuals of Turkish, South Asian, Slavic, and Maghrebian origin).

Contribution: All five studies report a significant diversity in partnership patterns across ethnic groups and suggest that the diversity in family forms will persist in the future. We argue that future research should investigate family patterns among the ‘third generation’, examine the links between economic and cultural integration of ethnic minorities, and exploit various novel techniques to analyse the dynamic nature of individuals' lives.

Author's Affiliation

Hill Kulu - University of St Andrews, United Kingdom [Email]
Tina Hannemann - University of Manchester, United Kingdom [Email]

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